Friday, May 26, 2006

Blink. Squint-squint. Blink blink.

I love eyes. I love looking into HCWB's eyes when we hold each other. I love looking into the eyes of my family when we sit and share our hearts with one another. I love looking into the eyes of people I am listening to. It helps me listen, because I feel they are giving me more of their heart. Even if, while talking to me, they can't look me in the eye -- this in itself helps me understand them more.

And I am compelled to look into the eyes of other people -- especially someone with whom I am sharing my heart. I can't seem to help it. I can't NOT at least try to look in their eyes. It feels like cheating to me if I don't, like I am witholding a part of myself -- only giving myself half-way. I want to give all of me, like a little child does.I've heard it said that looking into someone's eyes allows me to look into their soul. What an honour and privilege, then, when someone allows me to come that close to them -- to really "see" them as they are; to know they are seeing me for who I really am.


There are a lot of verses in the Bible which refer to eyes. It is good to "find favor in God's eyes" and we are the "apple of His eye". He puts light in our eyes, and the eye is the lamp of the body. If my eyes are clear my whole body will be full of light.

Then, of course, there is Jesus' famous teaching about eyes:

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."

~ Luke 6:41-42

As much as I love to look into people's eyes, I do sometimes find myself becoming critical. In addition to seeing goodness and light there, I also find fault. Dang.

Someone told me once:
"If there are people you don't like, what you don't like about them is what you don't like about yourself. You see in them something you don't like about yourself and you project it onto them as their problem, rather than deal with your own stuff. You avoid them because you are avoiding your own stuff."
Ouch. That hurts because it is so true!

I've started wondering: maybe the speck I see in their eye is not really in their eye at all -- it is only in mine.

In The Visual Bible's account of this scene from the book of Matthew, Jesus picks up a big walking stick and puts it against his face as a visual. He seems to be comically highlighting how ludicrous it is for me to try and help someone else when I have a huge problem in my own life.

And that's the way I've always read the passage where Jesus is talking about the speck and the log: as if He was saying
"Your stuff is bigger and worse, so forget about your brother’s stuff and worry about your own."
I guess I've seen it sort of like in elementary school when little Billy tells on little Mary, and the teacher's response is (insert either a sickly sweet voice or a horribly stern voice here. take your pick.)
"You worry about yourself, and let her worry about herself, OK?"
But as I have been pondering, I started thinking about how painful it is to have a speck in my eye. It is like getting a seed stuck in between my teeth, or getting a pebble stuck in my shoe. It may just be a small eyelash, or a tiny piece of dust, but to me it feels HUGE and I GOTTA DEAL WITH IT RIGHT NOW!!! Do you know the urgency I mean? Like, nothing else can happen until it is dealt with. My whole life stops -- heck, as far as I'm concerned the whole world stops! -- until I can get the speck out of my eye.

So I think maybe instead of the walking-stick-in-my-eye imagery, a better way for me to grasp the message in this verse is to picture myself squinting and blinking, eyes watering and red, saying
"Here (blink) let me help you (squint-squint) with that speck (water water) in your eye.

(blink-blink) No no, (water water) I’m fine. I’m great!!!

This thing
(squint) in my eye? It’s (blink) nothing.

(water) do the (squint) Christian thing and (blink) deny myself and (water) take up my cross so I can (blink squint water water water) help you out."
But their speck can’t be dealt with by me.

Not because I have a log in my eye -- but because I have a speck in my eye which ought to feel huge, but it doesn't. Because I am not allowing myself to feel. I am not dealing with it; I am pretending it is not even there.
In "trying to help" them, I become worse than a "blind leader of the blind" -- I become a blind leader of the non-blind!

Maybe Jesus isn't saying my stuff is worse than anyone else's, in relative terms. Maybe He is saying

"My dear little brother; my friend!
Learn to pay attention to the little irritants in your own life.
To someone else the speck in your eye may seem tiny.
It is no big deal to them, but to you it should feel huge.

Quit avoiding your own pain."

I'm learning. Slowly but surely, I'm learning.

~ cob

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